BCS Preston Branch Meeting

Last night, Tuesday 17th April I attended the inaugural meeting of Preston and district branch of the BCS. The meeting took place at 53 Degrees, the Students Union venue at Uclan.

The meeting had been arranged by BCS member Adrian Thompson, an enthusiastic member of the BCS, keen to establish a Preston BCS committee and social events for members. Adrian is a perfect ambassador for the BCS in that he is friendly and welcoming and willing to consider members’ suggestions as to how this group could move forward. Adrian is making it a priority to establish an active branch of the BCS in the Preston area.

It was encouraging to see such a large turnout, since first meetings can suffer from low attendances. There were a number of familiar names and faces for me, staff from Uclan’s Computing Science team, Preston GeekUp members, Computing at School and some from Preston Codejo. While it was certainly an interesting choice of venue, more akin to comedy nights and cabaret acts – the darkened room with purple mood lights gave the meeting a certain flamboyance. Adrian had arranged for a private bar and refreshments.

The first part of the meeting provided an opportunity for people to network. Adrian provided a questionnaire for attendees to complete to ascertain what their needs and interests were. All respondants indicated they would like the branch to organise events and activities with a focus on lectures and networking/making contacts.

Then to get things started, Adrian introduced himself and set out his aims to establish a more regular calendar of events and a committee. He then introduced Andrew Mohan, chair of the BCS Manchester group. Andrew described the sorts of activities that BCS members participate in and the various groups that Manchester members are involved in. It seems very clear that the 3000 members on the Manchester group are very active.

After Andrew Mohan’s presentation, I was given an opportunity to share some news of Computing at School activity at our Preston hub. I started by asking participants to describe to each other their personal experiences of IT or Computing at school. I then asked them to highlight the defining moments that helped each of them reach the conclusion that they wanted to work in their field of IT, Computing Science. After this I shared some of my own experiences then described how we have been embracing the teaching of computing at Our Lady’s High School. After showing the Hack To The Future film commissioned by BBC Learning (hosted here on this BBC R&D blog post), I asked participants what activities they would plan if they were to run a workshop at a Hack To The Future event.

Visit the BBC R&D blog to watch the film

Following my presentation, Jonathan Edwards gave an introduction to Preston Geek Up. Preston GeekUp meet from 7pm on the 3rd Monday of every month at The Continental off Broadgate in Preston. Jon described how the group meet in a separate room at The Continental with more of an emphasis on socialising and networking than talks and lectures, with a good measure of cake added in as well.

Towards the conclusion of our BCS meeting, Adrian suggested we next meet on Tuesday 12th June at 6.30pm. It was suggested that if BCS meetings were to take place each month for them to take place on the first Monday of each month, thereby avoiding other regular monthly meetings like Preston Codejo (2nd Monday) Preston Geek Up (3rd Monday) and GeekUpTheTower (Blackpool, 4th Monday). It is likely that the next BCS meeting may take place in a room in the Dept of Computing Science at Uclan, followed by a visit to one of the many nearby pubs afterwards. If you would like to know more about the next BCS Preston meeting, send an email to adrianthompsonATbcsDOTorgDOTuk

We did have some female participants during the evening, but they declined to be included in the photo – probably a good decision! I would really like to encourage more females to attend our next meeting on June 12th.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Claire Davenport says:

    Thanks for promoting Hack to the Future and Computing At School to last night’s BCS Preston meeting, Alan. It sounded like a great meeting, where everyone got a chance to find out about what’s going on already and hopefully how there may be some collaborative activities taking place in your area in future! Thanks for posting so enthusiastically on this, we encourage BCS branches and CAS groups to work together wherever possible to mutual benefit. Andrew Mohan’s presentation obviously demonstrated how successful the BCS Manchester branch is in the educational field, due to the strong commitment from him and his fellow committee members.


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